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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
SEPTEMBER 2013
75
AFSA NEWS
AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS : THE W. AVEREL L HARR IMAN AWARD
Between August 2010 and
July 2012, James Rider
and his supervisor, Shane
Myers, both FSOs in Caracas,
respectfully and repeatedly
dissented with lawyers in the
O ce of Overseas Citizens
Services over the Depart-
ment of State’s interpreta-
tion of the Child Citizenship
Act of 2000 as implemented
via 7 FAM 1159.1.
The Child Citizenship Act
grants citizenship to chil-
dren of U.S. citizens whose
parents cannot otherwise
transmit citizenship to them.
Mr. Rider unearthed funda-
mental diferences in their
interpretations of the CCA
between the department
and the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services.
PERS I STENT
D I SSENT
Persistent dissent to the
O ce of Policy Review and
Interagency Liaison on this
issue ultimately resulted in
a cable clarifying the law’s
key term, “residency.” Prior
to this clarifcation, children
overseas who never would
have qualifed had their
parents applied in the United
States were being granted
U.S. citizenship.
After adjudicating
hundreds of cases whereby
U.S. citizen parents lacking
enough “physical presence”
in the United States to
transmit citizenship availed
themselves of this loophole,
Mr. Rider exhaustively inves-
tigated the law’s origins and
why the interpretations of
the law had diverged.
BAD FOR OUR
COUNTRY
“I dissented for multiple
reasons,” Rider explains.
“First, the department’s
interpretations of the law
didn’t make sense. Second,
its interpretations created
more work for everyone
involved. Third, State’s
interpretation was directly
the opposite of how our
partner agency, the USCIS,
interpreted the same law.
Fourth, and most important,
I thought the department’s
interpretation of the law
was bad for our country and
too infuenced by lobbying
groups representing Ameri-
cans living abroad.”
James T. Rider’s con-
stant dissent, supported by
Mr. Myers, brought about a
consistent interpretation of a
crucial piece of U.S. law.
Now prospective U.S. citi-
zens and their parents can be
assured of clear, coordinated
Speak Up, Dissent and Argue: It’s What James T. Rider Did
responses to their applica-
tions.
REASONED
D I SSENT
Rider and Myers have
proven that reasoned dis-
sent can have a remarkable
impact, particularly when a
supervisor supports an initial
dissent of his supervisee and
contributes his energy and
experience to improve the
dissent and carry it through
to resolution.
When asked, “Why did
you do what you did,” Rider
responded, “I’m proud to
work for the Department of
State and to be able to serve
my country as a Foreign
Service o cer. I dissented
because I want to continue
to be proud of both of these
things.
NO MORE
S I GH I NG
“It is important for all of
us to speak up, dissent and
argue with one another about
policies that are wrong,
wasteful or poorly consid-
ered. Too often we just sigh
and say, ‘That’s what life is
like working for a government
bureaucracy; there’s nothing
you can do.’We should refuse
to accept that.”
n
FOR AN ENTRY- LEVEL FORE IGN SERV ICE OFF ICER
Brian Beckman (left) receives the W. Averell Harriman Award on behalf
of his friend and colleague, James T. Rider, who was singled out for his
relentless dissent regarding a loophole in U.S. citizenship law.